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The Old Maid

The Old Maid(1939)

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  • The Best of the Four

    • Vance Wilson
    • 2/15/14

    In 1939 Davis starred in "Dark Victory" (April), "Juarez", "The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex" and "the Old Maid". Much praise has been lavished on Davis for her bravura turn in 'Dark Victory' and it is a good film. However, I find that its power is diminished with repeated viewings. This I can NOT say about "The Old Maid" which is flawed only by Miriam Hopkins' ambiguous performance in a role that should have been more viciously portrayed. Curiously, this isn't a criticism of Ms. Hopkin's ability to act. Its difficult to determine whether it was the script, direction or Hopkin's desire to appear more sympathetic that makes her Delia less harsh than necessary for the potential of the scenario to be fully exploited. An example might include a scene in which Davis' Charlotte Lovell discovers that Hopkin's Delia Ralston has sabotaged Charlotte's own marriage to a Ralston heir (a brother of her own husband) by lying about Charlotte's health. Davis is superb as she approaches Hopkins who is descending a stairway in her home just about to learn that her husband has succumbed to an illness. As Davis confronts Hopkins with her knowledge, Hopkins registers the correct bewilderment and confusion given her character's current state, but fails to react at all to the very real havoc created by her character that Davis has just detected and conveyed to her. Instead, the family doctor steps between the cousins and informs Delia that she must "be brave" leaving Davis to fill the screen with her wonderfully bereft, bitter facial expression. The result is that the film ends up highlighting Bette Davis' versatility and fantastic range instead of being a shared showcase for both actresses.

  • Great movie!

    • Emily
    • 11/24/13

    I saw this movie a few times and am a lover of old movies. I think that Betty Davis did a great job in this movie.Im trying to add this movie to my collections and noticed that's its not possible!WHY?????????????? This is a great film - Id buy it for sure if I could!

  • Davis at her best!

    • RedRain
    • 3/15/13

    This is a film about terrible secrets and what keeping secrets can wrought. Miriam Hopkins keeps a spiteful secret and you want to strangle her character for doing so. Bette Davis, magnificently transitioning from lovely and hopeful young girl to a bitter, hard old maid, keeps her love-child secret. The two women pay dearly for their secrets and it breaks your heart. This is such a good film and a great study in what keeping secrets does to you! Five stars for the acting!

  • "Poor Charlotte"

    • Nora Johnson
    • 10/18/12

    Of course,who couldn't love Bette Davis? Why did she play "martyrs" in so many of her films? She and Miriam Hopkins hated each other and often had to act together. I dislike Miriam so much from her fine acting....Bette was probably a difficult woman in real life,hence her many failed marriages! This and "Now,Voyager" and "Jezebel" among my favorite Davis films...thanks...Nora

  • credit due to Hopkins

    • hermann
    • 11/20/10

    I am a big Bette Davis fan, but it's time Miriam Hopkins got some praise here too. Much of the life and excitement in this movie comes from her portrayal. Yes, it's possible to be a fan of both actresses. (Oh, so they didn't get along off screen? So what?)

  • The Old Maid (1939)

    • James Higgins
    • 1/4/10

    What a great film this is. Bette Davis is magnificent, I love her films from the 1930's and 1940's. You can sense the real life animosity between Davis and co-star Miriam Hopkins. I think it helps the film work as well as it does. Great story, excellent production, particularly the costumes and art direction. A great classic.

  • A 1939 Bette Davis Classic

    • p.h.oenix
    • 7/29/09

    What no Oscar nominations? During this period of Bette Davis' acting career she was the best actress in Hollywood. This movie being the 3rd of 4 she made in 1939is the most intense of them. In the 90 minute period the show lasts, Bette Davischanges from being a happy young woman inlove to an embittered older woman who never married and wouldn't reveal to her daughter that she was her birth mother. As Davis acts out the change in her character's disposition her acting becomes quite intense. This is when it iseasy to tell that Bette Davis has become a master actor who goes so deeply into each character that she's not herself at all. She is the characater. In this movieBette Davis is the old maid.

  • Only 1939 Davis Classic Not Up For Awards

    • Myrone
    • 7/25/09

    In this, the 3rd of 4 Bette Davis classics of 1939, another shift takes place. The era changes to Victorian but the place is the US of A. Davis carries the title role with a understated or repressed vengence. This is one time the role she plays doesn't require her to make a major attitude or mental state change. Almost from the start she's in turmoil with her cousin (Miriam Hopkins). First over a man she loves. Then over the child she bears out of wedlock while he's at war. During the war she takes in many children and cares for them. So no one else knows that Tina is her own child until her cousin finds out. Then, the sparks begin to fly between the cousins (Davis & Hopkins) & they don't really do much letting up until the very end. Davis does age considerably in a matter of 90 minutes. But it's not the type of total transformation that becomes one of her career trademarks. This is a choice film.

  • Classic Davis: "Reigning Queen of Hollywood"

    • BeauB
    • 7/25/09

    Over time, I'd forgetten how well acted"The Old Maid" of 1939 was. Thank goodness TCM doesn't forget because I need reminders. There are so many classics, with such a wide array of actors that it becomes easy to let a film's assets slip from my memory (that may be having a 'senior moment'!). MiriamHopkins plays the jealous and conniving cousin who comes off as the sweet one. Bette Davis plays the title role as the cousin who by putting her child first becomes embittered over the years. In around 90 minutes, Davis (only 31yo) agesinto the proverbial 'old maid' with a grown up daughter. Considering this was only one of Davis' astounding 4 classic films of 1939 makes her performance even more classic. The film just premiered on TCM, "1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year," names Bette Davis "the reigning queen of Hollywood."

  • 1 of 4 Bette Davis Classics of 1939

    • PearyHusky
    • 7/24/09

    Looking to the left at that column where awards would be listed, it's quite surprising that this, of all films, didn't earn a single Oscar nomination. Bette Davis played the leading lady in 4 classic films in 1939 alone & this is one of them. It's an old fashioned story about how women were adversely affected by a war. This time it's Charlotte Lovell (Davis) whose fiance' doesn't return from the battlefield leaving her in the situation of being an unwed mother. Rather than raising her daughter,Tina, with that social stigma, Delia (Miriam Hopkins), Charlotte's married sister, raised Tina as her own. Over the years as Charlotte watches her daughter as if she's her aunt, she becomes embittered & remains single. Hence, the 31 year young Davis plays the title rolequite convincingly aging & transforming herself. It's such a great film.

  • Mother Love

    • Wilmma
    • 7/22/09

    "The Old Maid" is a great film that Bette Davis turns into one of her bravura performances. She's the so called 'old maid', eventually. That may not seem like something major with today's graphics, all the plastics, makeup, lighting, plus many more camera and editing techniques. However, when Bette Davis was a 31 year old in 1939, none of these modern methods of aging an actor were available. The strength of the films then depended so much more upon very skillful acting techniques. When you watch this film that is what you'll see in Bette Davis' performance. Throughout her 6 decades on film, Davis perfected a style of shape shifting from one form of being to another. That's the artistic part of this film that keeps me watching it time after time. The plot part is the element of an extraordinary kind of mother love that Davis also presents.

  • Odd What Was Old Then

    • DGrouix
    • 7/20/09

    Several times in Bette Davis films (this one and "Now, Voyager" in particular), a woman who's considered young today was considered a "spinster" then. What was the word for the men the same age, hmm? Why did a woman have an imposing mandate hanging over her like doomsday coming, if she wasn't married in her 20's? Was it all about reproduction? Anyway, the young woman who becomes an unwed mother (heaven forbid) becomes the spinster aunt to her own daughter who's clueless that Davis is her birth mother. The role Miriam Hopkins plays is to taunt her sister mercilessly because she's the one who's got it all. The arrogance of Hopkins' character grates against the grain. Davis' character's long suffering and strong enough to withstand all that her sister dishes out. That's the triumph of the film's plot: mother love prevailing.

  • What Actors Draw Upon

    • DC_DR
    • 7/20/09

    How could a 31 year young Bette Davis know how an elderly unwed mother with an estranged grown daughter feel? Isn't it like Andrew Lloyd Webber writing one of the most beautiful songs about being elderly, for "Cats": "Memory"? Performance artists seem to have at least one thing in common: they go some place within themselves to draw upon their source of imagination. Lauren Bacall (now nearly 85yo and still playing leading roles in films) said, "Imagination is the highest kite one can fly." That's what Bette Davis became an artful master of: reaching into her well of imagination, drawing it outward, and pouring it into an art form called acting. She becomes 'the old maid', the spinster aunt, of her own daughter. How beautifully she reveals her own emotions through a script. It's why I will remain one among those who continue to watch this film many times, and maybe every time TCM airs it.

  • Another 1939 Great Classic

    • BeauB
    • 7/19/09

    Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins co-lead in this classic about an unwed mother and her sister struggling over the daughter they wind up 'sharing'. Her aunt is called mother and her mother is called aunt. The girl never learns that who she's been calling her aunt (Davis) is her mother and who she believes is her mother (Hopkins) is her aunt. Davis ages throughout the films, which is one of her forte's, to effect change after change in a character. Her performance is certainly way up there with the best of them of the highly competitive year in Hollywood's 'golden era'. Davis was turning out classic performances by the dozens at this point of her brilliantly navigated acting career.

  • A 31 Year Young Old Maid: Bette Davis

    • film_critiquer
    • 7/18/09

    One of the best dialogical exchanges between Bette Davis (playing the title role) and Miriam Hopkins (playing her sister) has to do with the daughter Charlotte Lovell (Davis) has taken from her by her sister, Delia Lovell Ralston (Hopkins), out of spite & jealousy. Davis watches her own daughter grow up as if her Hopkins' child. As they talk about it years later, Davis takes the upper hand telling Hopkins that Tina will always be her daughter even if she only thinks that she's an old maid of an aunt. Without enough empathy to relate to such devotion, Hopkins arrogates in her usual uppity style as if she's a superior person to her sister. Davis is great at achieving on screen character changes while staying in character. This is one of her early better ones.

  • Wonderful to Watch Again

    • Brossard
    • 7/17/09

    This is the kind of film that never grows old with me. The lead actors really put forth so much of themselves that I find something new in their performances each time. Especially Bette Davis'. She's awesome in this film.

  • First Time Seen

    • Thomas_J
    • 7/17/09

    I was amazed by how the characters aged so well throughout this film, and yet they are so young in real life. Now I can understand why this movie's in the Volume 3 collection on DVD. Thanks for airing it.

  • Grateful Patron of TCM: Old Maid

    • freddie8
    • 7/16/09

    I can't over express my appreciation for the classic films TCM shows. Since The Old Maid was recently broadcast, I was extra happy because acting doesn't ever get better than Bette Davis'. It's a real treat to see this film again. Each time I see it I find something new to appreciate about it. The films Bette Davis made seem to all be like that. They get better over time.

  • Thanks TCM for Airing This Classic

    • Sharon.Preeves
    • 7/16/09

    There are good reasons for watching this film and owning it too. It's a classic in every respect. Bette Davis is the title actor who nails her role even as she ages considerably throughout the film. I've watched it many times and do not tire of doing so.

  • Brilliant Performance by Bette Davis

    • MyrtleB
    • 7/15/09

    I've just watched "The Old Maid" for the umteenth time, when TCM recently braodcast it. Thannks TCM. Bette Davis performance stands way out as a classic one because she exhibits the ability to change from one age of character to another so convincingly well. She's truly superb in this film as the title character (who when she played her was anything but an old maid). This time I noticed how Miriam Hopkins didn't do the same kind of transformation as well as Davis did, in contrast. That make me more aware of how good an actress Davis really was.

  • One of Davis' Classic Performances

    • Crickle
    • 7/15/09

    When Bette Davis decides to go into each character they become unique to the scripts. She goes so far beyond what other actors do that she makes a believer of viewers that she is "The Old Maid." Davis was in her beginning 30's when she played the elderly part of her this character. She's ever so believable and I like the way she depicts that woman who makes willing sacrifices for her child, without being stuck on herself. Her character is noble.

  • Classic Bette Davis Performance

    • GeorgiaR
    • 7/11/09

    A 31yo Bette Davis played "The Old Maid." She aged throughout the film and did so convincingly. The reason she remained single was because her child was the center of her life, even though she wanted to protect her from being viewed as illegitimate and gave her to her sister.It' Bette's acting that makes the film so darned excellent.

  • Another 1939 Classic by Bette Davis

    • Auntranett
    • 7/11/09

    As if "Dark Victory," "Juarez" and "The Private lives of Essex and Elizabeth" weren't enough for one actor, Bette Davis, to star in during 1939, add to that impressive classic list "The Old Maid." And to that list add all of these classic actors who played in this film: George Brent, Donald Crisp, Miriam Hopkins, James Stephenson and Jane Bryan.Davis plays the lead and title role as the woman who conceives a child by a man who goes to war. For the child's sake she gives her to her sister (Hopkins) and they do not ever tell the girl she's Davis' daughter. It's about mother love and sibling rivalry and one heck of a classic film due to extraordinary performances.

  • Bring on Bette Davis' Classics Like This

    • MarieAndrews
    • 7/10/09

    There's a very good reason "The Old Maid" is included in one of the largest collections of Bette Davis' classics on DVD: this film features Davis playing the lead and title role, delivering another 1939 classic performance for Warner Bros. and for all time. Own this film which ever way it's possible. I can't help but to watch it many times a year. That's how good the story, script, acting and all else are. It has a historical significance for women too: what it was like to be an unwed mother during a war period in US history. Davis depicts a character who was hardly a thing like her in reality. Great acting prowess exudes from her. She's already on her roll into filmmaking history as an all time classic-making actor.

  • Not to Be Missed

    • MarjorieAW
    • 7/9/09

    With TCM close to broadcasting this film, I want to add my two cents worth here to recommend watching this fine classic film. Why? It is FILLED with absolutely top knotch classic performances. Most especially that of Bette Davis, who royally carries the lead as the title character.

  • Another Bette Davis Classic

    • Corbinn
    • 6/15/09

    Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins play sisters. After Davis has a child and loses her lover in the war, her sister convinces her that her daughter will be far better off being raised by her aunt instead of her mother. Davis reluctantly gives her child to Hopkins to raise with her own children so that she'll not be labeled or mistreated for being born out of wedlock. It's more difficult than Davis imagined as she sacrifices so much for her daughter's sake. The dynamics between Davis and Hopkins are worth watching repeatedly.

  • A Real Tear Jerker

    • NJMB
    • 5/16/09

    Bette Davis is the proverbial 'old maid' one of her many southern characters named Charlotte. This Charlotte loves a man who's loses his life in the US Civil War. Her sister, Miriam Hopkins, has it all, family-wise. When Davis turns out to be pregnant with her soldier's child, the social pressures of the times force her to make a choice about how she wants to raise their daughter. Though it may have been the right thing to do for her daughter, Davis becomes an embittered'old maid' due to the choices she made when her child was young and she was alone. This film has a must see ending.

  • Another Great 1939 Movie

    • Marie
    • 1/28/09

    Bette Davis at her best in this soap opera set at the time of the Civil War and should have won a third Oscar for this movie.

  • The Old Maid

    • Laural
    • 11/29/08

    The acting in this film is wonderful,starting with the amazing Bette Davis.It's very sad but still very good.Kind of a shocking subject for it's time which makes it even more enjoyable. Bette plays a bitter old maid very well, she was always great at playing women older than herself.

  • Awesome in every way

    • Dean
    • 11/28/08

    Acting at it's best. Combining great acting talent with a believable and realistic story,showing a mother's true and selfless love and sacrifices for her daughter.Heart wrenching stuff when you see how she represses the love she has for her own child.Bette Davis skill is apparent when she makes you feel the range of emotion's that you would expect from her character under the circumstances.Jane Bryan's performance as the young,somewhat resentful daughter is also stellar and really adds to this films greatness.This movie also makes you wonder about how realities can vary from person to person.Excellent from beginning to end.

  • Talent at its best!

    • Eileen
    • 8/3/06

    Bette Davis excels even her high standards in her performance of Charolette. To deny herself the love of her only child is mosre than what any mother could bear.

  • Good Movie

    • Debra Cobb
    • 5/18/06

    I really enjoyed that this movie. Bette Davis was belivable as a mother carrying the quitlt and shame of an mother on the outside of her childs life for the sake of the childs well-fair

  • What Can I say, it's A Bette Davis Movie!

    • Debbie Crawford
    • 3/16/06

    This movie keeps you on the edge of your sit, wondering if she would ever reveal her true identity to her ungrateful daughter. I think Delia was spiteful and mean to take advantage of the situation and control Bette's delimma. Great acting, great movie. Once again, why is this movie not on DVD? Come on Hollywood give the public what we cry for, real, down to earth, goodness movies, not blood, guts, gore and sex.

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